A new ICM poll for the Sunday Mirror shows a drop in the Conservative level of support. The topline figures with changes from ICM’s last poll for the Guardian are CON 37%(-3), LAB 33%(+2), LDEM 21%(-1) – presumably “others” are up two points, having seemed somewhat low compared to other pollsters in ICM’s last monthly Guardian poll.

Assuming the change is a real one, and not just normal sample error, it may that the increased media coverage for the Labour party is firming up their vote, or that there is some degree of sympathy for Tony Blair that is boosting Labour support (the YouGov trackers showed a boost in people’s opinions of Tony Blair and when Tony Blair originally announced that he would leave during his third term, back in September 2004, there was a large boost in his ratings). David Cameron also made his speech on forign affairs between the two polls, though it received little media coverage compared to the Labour leadership.

The poll also suggests that eagerness for Blair’s departure has dropped slightly since the peak of the crisis. Questions on Blair’s tenure are remarkably tricky to compare, because each pollster tends to give respondents a different set of options to chose from. However, the ICM poll conducted straight after Tom Watson’s resignation found 50% of people wanted Blair to go this year, and 12% before the local elections. This lastest poll finds that 45% want him to go now, and 11% before the local elections.

The poll isn’t so rosy for Gordon Brown. He is still the overwhelming favourite to succeed Tony Blair as Prime Minister. 46% of the public named Brown as their preferred successor, with John Reid second on 10% (Alan Johnson was on 5%, David Miliband was on 2%. John McDonnell was not included in the question, but somewhat strangely Charles Clarke was on 8%.) The printed figures seem to be excluding those who said don’t know, so can’t really be compared to any previous figures.

Asked if “claims he plotted to unseat Tony Blair over the past 2 weeks” had helped or harmed Brown, 79% of people said they had harmed him. Asked whether Brown or Blair would make the better Prime Minister, 57% said Blair, 43% Brown. Again, this seems to be excluding don’t knows, but an ICM poll in March 2006 asked what appears to be the same question and found 30% Blair to 30% Brown. In March 2005 poll ICM found Brown ahead, 40% to 32%. Brown’s popularity compared to Tony Blair does seem to be falling.

UPDATE: The full tables are now on ICM’s website here. Asked if Blair or Brown would make the better Prime Minister, 40% said Blair to 30% for Brown, suggesting a shift from the don’t knows and neithers to Blair since the March 2006 poll. Without excluding don’t knows, the figures for preferred leader are Brown 33%, Reid 7%, Clarke 5%, Johnson 4% and Miliband 2%. Amongst Labour members the figures are Brown 57%, Reid 7%, Clarke 1%, Johnson 4%, Miliband 2%.

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